Mediapost Online Media Daily
Bruno Uzzan is co-founder and CEO of Total Immersion.
What becomes a killer app? How does an application go from being merely great to becoming transformational? Where augmented reality (AR) is concerned, dare I suggest that it begins with good technology? “Good” in this context means: robust, scalable, reliable, lightweight, easy to deploy, even easier to use.
But before AR can become a new killer app, it must be understood for what it is — a new human interface. AR is nothing less than a new way of seeing, a new mode of interacting, of enabling us to explore scenarios that don’t exist in the “real” world. By inserting ourselves in the scene, being the hero of our own game, seeing ourselves in 3-D, a kind of “reality TV’ effect takes hold.
As an emerging platform, augmented reality doesn’t depend on mobile, kiosks, window displays, or breakthrough baseball cards — however magical and engaging these deployments may be. It depends on the technology being all those things referenced a few lines up. AR apps of course have to be unbreakable; but what they really have to be is unforgettable. And technology is fundamental to attaining that precious intangible.
AR needs to be viewed in that context, a technology platform that is more than versatile enough to flourish beyond digital marketing. Certainly, enabling web-based AR quickly opened up an enormous array of digital marketing applications. Digital marketing is still the very visible tip of the iceberg, but below the water line, there’s a vast array of applications — many of them transformative — that are poised for development, even as marketing applications mature.
Where is AR going? Let us count the places: e-commerce, especially retail; experiential education; science and medicine (think: retinal surgery); embedded in durable consumer products, from toys to apparel; architecture and development; public safety and transportation. And that’s just for starters.
With augmented reality proliferating on multiple screens and in various guises within such a brief period, the challenge now is to decipher what truly is AR from what’s being billed as AR, and to understand how these very different versions – and visions – compare.
AR is a trend, not a gimmick. It’s a new paradigm that encompasses anything digital or virtual that “crosses over” into your real environment. We all need to catch up to the technology – it’s evolving so quickly that it’s been difficult to process and even more challenging to assimilate. We’re stepping into a new world, where a variation of Moore’s Law applies: capabilities and application knowledge are growing almost exponentially. The skillset is expanding accordingly, and AR will be even more pervasive a year from now. Markerless tracking – which relies on natural targets to trigger the AR experience – figures to be a key element. Ditto for face-tracking, hand-tracking, other gestural techniques – even RFID.
Like so many things, AR started cool but is already becoming more “serious.” During the last year, brands have been underwriting, providing consumers with free novelties. But while that’s apt to continue for some time, the stirrings of a new industry segment – defined in part by its own killer app – are undeniable.
The progression from entertainment to real utility, from custom installations to commoditized products, is now under way. Watch as it continues to unfold. It should be quite a ride.
Filed under: Expert Review | Tagged: Augmented Reality, Total Immersion US | 2 Comments »